Target to Try Small

Will test new "quick-trip" convenience store-like format, TargetExpress


MINNEAPOLIS -- Like its mass-merchandise rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target jumping on the "Express" bandwagon. This July, Target will test a new store format, TargetExpress, in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota campus.

The retailer's smallest location to date, the store will serve students and urban customers living in nearby neighborhoods, and cover approximately 15% the size of a traditional Target store (20,000 square feet, according to a report by The New York Times).

"This is an exciting opportunity to test and learn as we continue exploring new ways to meet our guests' needs and exceed their expectations," said John Griffith, executive vice president of property development. "Our focus is on ensuring the Target shopping experience is available when, where and how guests want it."

Target's research indicates that when consumers head out for quick shopping trips, there are often many pain points, such as long lines, navigation challenges and uninspiring offerings. Griffith said the TargetExpress experience will be grounded in this research as well as learnings from the company's smaller-format CityTarget stores. For example, the checkout lane configuration will be catered to high traffic and smaller basket size, as compared to a general merchandise store.

Consumers who stop in to shop this scaled-down space will still find bright lights, clean aisles and a team focused on helping them find everything they want and need, the company said.

It said that urban customers are more "spontaneous and focused on immediate use vs. stocking up"; therefore, everyday essentials will be "front and center" with products in beauty, pharmacy, grocery and commodities. Assortments will include smaller pack sizes and items geared toward instant consumption, like grab-and-go sandwiches.

And the store will also include a variety of merchandise not found at other "quick-trip" stores, including a curated assortment in home and electronics; seasonal offerings, as well as a "fan central" area featuring University of Minnesota-specific merchandise.

"We'll carefully evaluate this new format to determine plans for future growth," said Griffith.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart operates 19 Walmart Express small-format retail outlets in Arkansas (3), North Carolina (14) and Illinois (2). They are 10,000-to-12,000-square-foot stores, although the company has tested them as high as 15,000 square feet. It also operates three Walmart on Campus 2,500-square-foot, college-based convenience store-type retail outlets as part of a separate small-format test. They are located at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arizona State University in Tempe and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. In November, the company announced that it will open a genuine c-store in Bentonville in Spring 2014. Wal-Mart also operates 250 urban Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

Minneapolis-based Target, based in Minneapolis, has 1,921 stores, 1,797 in the United States and 124 in Canada.